Ways to Celebrate Chicago’s Puerto Rican Community

A day out in Humboldt Park will help you learn more about the culturally-rich community.

One of the great things about Chicago is its diverse cultures and the neighborhoods that showcase them. Puerto Ricans have been in Chicago since the late 1940s. Although the neighborhood population is changing, the cultural influence of Puerto Rico is still visible in Humboldt Park.

For a great day out, and a little learning, head to Humboldt Park and finish with a treat. 

Do This

Take a walk with your family starting on Division and Western, through what is known as Paseo Boricua (Puerto Rican Promenade) and head west. Look up and you will see the first of two 56-foot-tall, 40-ton steel Puerto Rican flags.

As you stroll on Division Street, watch for the murals. Among my favorite, at 2460 W. Division, is The 79th, naming Paseo Boricua as the symbolic 79th municipality of Puerto Rico. (The island has 78 municipalities.) The mural depicts the Paseo Boricua flag.

Here are other murals to explore on your walk: Sea of Flags at 2500 W. Division, Escuelita Tropical at 2516 W. Division and Born of Fire at 2700 W. Division.

Head to La Casita de Don Pedro, 2625 W. Division, a small courtyard with a statue of Don Pedro Ablizu Campo and a replica of a traditional Puerto Rican one-room home with a front porch and a zinc roof.

Located at 3015 W. Division is the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture. Two beautiful statues of horses adorn the front entrance of what once was Humboldt Park Stables. The museum hosts exhibits by well-known artists from the island and around the United States.

From Robert Clemente to Javier Baez, Puerto Ricans are known for their love of baseball. In celebration of this, your next stop should be Little Cubs Field, a replica of Wrigley Field found at the west end of the Park.

Finally, attend the Puerto Rican Festival June 9-12 (the parade is June 11) to immerse yourself in the culture. Enjoy the local artists and experience traditional Puerto Rican music and dance.

Try That

Photo credit: Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo

Here is a quick and easy recipe for one of Puerto Rico’s popular desserts, Pastelillos de Guayaba (Guava filled puff pastry). I enjoyed making them with kids.

Ingredients

  • 1 package puff pastry dough
  • 1 package guava paste or guava jelly (if using guava paste, cut into small pieces and place in microwave for 45 seconds until creamy)
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Make sure puff pastry is thawed if previously frozen. Open one sheet and cut into equal size squares. I like 3-inch by 3-inch.
  3. Place the squares on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes or until puffy and golden.
  4. Cut the pastry in half horizontally, fill with guava to your liking and sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Evelyn Sanchez-Toledo is a former educator and Humboldt Park grandmother who has just published her third children’s book, Las aventuras de Ana la abeja/The Adventures of Ana the Bee, available in English and Spanish for kids 3-8.


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